One of the biggest wins of former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin’s career was his third round submission over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, which he scored in Rua’s first fight after PRIDE. Considered to be one of the very best light heavyweights in the world at the time (well, he still is) Rua was widely picked to beat Griffin. Griffin had different plans, though, and outworked Rua en route to the stoppage victory.
Rua has quietly maintained since that he didn’t take the fight as seriously as he should have and it’s widely known that he was coming off one of his many knee injuries at the time. Whether or not he would have beaten Griffin that night, even at one hundred percent is unknown and immaterial — that night belonged to Griffin. But tonight in Rio de Janeiro, it was a whole different story.
Supremely motivated not only to erase the defeat to Griffin but to bounce back from his title-relinquishing loss to Jon Jones, Shogun Rua came to the fight a man with purpose. Though Griffin came out of the gates aggressively, showing improved footwork, the fight belonged to Rua from the get-go. The Brazilian dynamo countered Griffin’s few attempts at offense with hard shots and it wasn’t long before he went on the attack himself. In similar fashion to how he knocked out Chuck Liddell, Rua lunged after Griffin as he backed up and tagged him with a looping right hook.
The punch put Griffin on shaky legs and he collapsed to the mat as Rua came forward after him. From there, Shogun sealed the deal with relentless ground and pound. Again, a Brazilian celebrated while his opponent lay unconscious.
“Forrest is a good fighter,” said the soft-spoken Rua after the fight. “But I trained hard for three months.”
Proving that when he’s in shape and uninjured that he’s still among the best light heavyweights in the world, Rua brought his record to 20-5 tonight in front of a rowdy crowd of Brazilian fans. It’s hard to think that there was a better way for him to bounce back from that loss to Jones.
Griffin falls to 18-7 with the loss and sees an end to his two-fight winning streak. With his interest already admittedly waning for the fight game, it will be interesting to see where Griffin goes from here.